William and Mary Digest: Oct. 11

College to offer master’s degree in English as a second language

The College of William and Mary’s School of Education will offer a master’s degree in bilingual education, meant to help serve teachers interested in becoming versatile enough to help English learners in the classroom.

“Up until this past year, the school of education has worked in conjunction with the Department of Modern Languages and Literature to offer classes so that we can provide the ESL (English as a second language) dual endorsement,” said Katherine Barko-Alva, assistant professor of ESL/bilingual education and director of the ESL/dual endorsement program.

She added that more institutions of higher education across the country need the type of master’s of arts in education degree that William and Mary offers.

“As the linguistic demands of our country increase, there is a need for a stand-alone M.A.Ed. in ESL/bilingual education program in addition to our dual endorsement option,” she said.

School districts in Northern Virginia and Hampton Roads all have dual-language programs, Barko-Alva said.

“Dual language programs are growing in the country,” Barko-Alva said. “We started with around 200, and right now we’re up to approximately 2,000 dual language programs nationwide. And in Virginia alone we have close to 13.”

More than 55 million Americans speak a language other than English at home, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

W&M confirms connection to community

William and Mary joined dozens of other universities who have reaffirmed their connection to the community through an organization called Campus Compact.

Rollin Johnson, director of Campus Compact Virginia, said each of the 25 Virginia institutions promotes community engagement in their own unique ways.

“Every institution brings a really unique piece to the (Campus Compact for Virginia) network, and I think our network as a whole has the ability to share learning about how we deepen civic engagement efforts throughout the commonwealth, whether it’s from how we assess students’ learning, supporting engaged scholarship, or to how we determine the impact we are having with our partners,” he said.

“We get to the opportunity to bring public, four-year institutions, four-year private institutions and two-year colleges to the same table, and I believe that leads to a kind of richness in conversation, discovery and diversity in our work. It is this richness which will give us the ability to continue to do our work with sustained purpose and impact.”

Since the student body at the college is already engaged in their community, the agreement makes sense for the both parties, William and Mary president Taylor Reveley said.

“William and Mary students are remarkably committed to service,” he said. “This agreement will help direct our energies as a community, and it sends a strong signal about the public good that students, faculty and staff can do.”

The college’s Office of Community Engagement is centered around bringing the university’s goals into the region. Melody Porter, director of the office, and other staff are putting together a civic action plan that runs parallel to the idea of Campus Compact.

“The overall goal of the plan is to bring together people across campus and community to gather information about our current efforts, develop goals for William and Mary to increase our positive impact on campus and in the community and implement a plan to achieve those goals,” Porter said. “It could be a very wide-reaching plan, and it could be very focused.”

Online learning praised at the college

The eLearning Media Group has recognized the online program at William and Mary as one of the nation’s best.

Stanford and the University of Central Florida were among the universities also bestowed the same distinction by the California-based business that monitors online initiatives at governmental institutions and nonprofits.

“APeL's online team was recognized for its high-level of performance,” said Ryan Baltrip, the college’s director of online programming. “In various ways over the past year, APeL's online team has assisted the growing and expanding online learning initiatives at the university while drastically improving the quality of online learning we support.”

“Students now want class options that extend beyond the physical classroom, and the college is working to meet those preferences,” Baltrip said.

“The typical William and Mary student wants more flexible learning options. They lead well-rounded, busy lives, and I suspect we’ll see more even more flexible learning options in the future to serve their needs.”

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